Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Raúl Grijalva?


A few days ago John Nichols took to the pages of The Nation to write up the Progressive Honor Roll of 2011, and while we're not 100% in synch on every single particular-- Sherrod Brown over Bernie Sanders?-- we both agree on the House's most valuable player.
Few members of the House have been so consistently progressive as Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva, who has a history of challenging Republican, and Democratic, administrations on issues of economic justice, civil rights, and war and peace. Grijalva made headlines when-- in the face of death threats-- he opposed Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant laws. He has been just as outspoken at the federal level, working closely with his Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, Keith Ellison, against the GOP austerity agenda while prodding the Obama administration to support a dramatically bolder jobs agenda. Grijalva’s no-punches-pulled progressivism is all the more impressive because he represents a district where in 2010 he faced a serious re-election fight. He saw off that challenge, proving that even in the toughest years it is possible, perhaps even necessary, to run left to win.

We haven't added many incumbents to a page specifically designed to help endangered progressives raise campaign funds, but Raúl was the first one we thought of. He's driven by solid New Deal principles and values and has been a fearless and courageous champion for ordinary working families normally ignored by Inside the Beltway elites. Unfortunately, in ignoring the lobbyists, corporations and banksters who grease the wheels that keep the political campaigns going, Raúl leaves himself perpetually in danger. He rarely raises much money for reelection, and the Republicans have started targeting him with massive negative campaign ads courtesy of Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers.

Last year Raúl had his toughest reelection fight ever and just scraped by with 50% of the vote. Where many of his colleagues have several million dollars in their reelection warchests, he has $60,000. Last year he had to spend $1,463,648 to fend off massive amounts spent by secretive outside PACs. He expects worse this year-- and the DCCC has adamantly refused to add him to their Front Line list of endangered incumbents, which they use to help Blue Dogs and other conservatives who voted with Boehner and Cantor against progressive initiatives. Instead of Grijalva they're asking donors to pump money into reactionaries like Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Larry Kissell (proto-Blue Dog-NC), Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Bill Owens (proto-Blue Dog-NY), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR) and Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC).

According to ProgressivePunch, many of these right-wing Democrats voted more frequently with the GOP on crucial roll calls than with the Democrats in 2011, particularly Chandler, almost 70% with the GOP, Matheson (80% with the GOP-- yes, 80%, and that's where the DCCC puts its your money), Owens (64% with the GOP), and Kissell and McIntyre (each almost 60% with the GOP). Consider telling the DCCC to add Grijalva to their list if they want you to even consider donating to them again. And instead, consider contributing to Raúl at our worthy incumbents page.

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